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Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,475 Ratings  ·  246 Reviews
After losing his wife to breast cancer, Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes. He quit his job of seventeen years and embarked upon a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,176-mile stretch of varying terrain spanning fourteen states. During his nearly five-month-long hike, he battled brutal trail conditions and overwhelming loneliness, but also enjoyed spectacul ...more
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Synergy Books
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Helen Dunn
I'm being generous with the three stars. I feel like I'm somewhere between 2.5 and 3 on this book. However, the problems I had are my own and mostly due to the fact that I didn't read the back cover closely before buying the book and so I wasn't prepared for how much of it is about the author's relationship with God.

I'm fascinated by long distance hiking and I have read many books on this subject. The people who tend to go on these adventures are usually driven by something other than love of th
...more
Warren
Sep 10, 2012 Warren rated it it was ok
I really enjoy auto-biographical accounts like this one. That's the only reason I gave it 2 stars. Other than enjoying the account of one man's journey along the Appalachian Trail, this book had another purpose. You learn of the author's religious background as a Mennonite which is an interesting account. Around mid-way through the book, however, things start to take an odd turn and it's clear that the author's religious base is becoming very mystical. Unfortunately, this is not too far afield f ...more
SheLove2Read
Apr 22, 2016 SheLove2Read rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This was a free read I picked up a year or so ago and finally got around to reading. While long winded in places, the journey I now know is one I'll have to live vicariously through books and documentaries. A gentle stroll in some places, an arduous and life threatening hike at others. I'm glad the author was able to experience something life changing that so many of us will never attempt. 3.5 stars
Carly
May 17, 2012 Carly rated it it was amazing
This book appealed to me for so many reasons I don’t even know where to start. First of all, I love memoirs, they are all I read before I got hooked on Christian fiction. Second, I love to read books about nature and adventures I’ll likely never see. I also love books about healing that are written by people who have experienced the very healing that the book is about. Hiking Through was exactly the book I was hoping it would be.

I have had a difficult time watching my dad deal with the grief of
...more
Katherine
Oct 31, 2012 Katherine rated it did not like it
I am surprised by all of the five star reviews of this book. I have been interested in reading about hiking the Appalachian trail for some time, ever since I read Bill Bryson's book, "A Walk in the Woods". That book for me was soooo much better! If you don't want to be bombarded with religion, avoid "Hiking Through".

Many reviewers spoke of the colorful characters that the author met along the way, but I felt that any he mentioned were completely undeveloped. Why, for instance, is "Einstein" cal
...more
Dree
Too much religion. Just too much Christianity. The author is shocked that he gets along with a Catholic priest--that kind of Christianity. I am completely lost as to why the subtitle does not reflect this, especially has he tries to convince the reader that God talks to him (and you too! just listen!). GAH.

The hiking parts (other than when he thinks God is talking to him) are pretty good. I find it fascinating that so many middle aged men head out on the trail after their wives have died. As a w
...more
Theresa
Apr 16, 2010 Theresa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is not the first book I've found about hiking the Appalachian Trail, nor will it be the last. What makes this book different is the message and the reason behind it. When Mr. Stutzman's wife died, he realized that all he worked for was nothing compared to what he lost with his wife. The importance was spending time with your loved ones, and live each day like it's your last with them. He took that message along with him on his 5 month trip on the Appalachian Trail.

Mr. Stutzman writes his ad
...more
Clockstein Lockstein
May 19, 2012 Clockstein Lockstein rated it it was amazing
Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman is the story of one man's journey on the Appalachian trail, through grief, and to understanding about God. Stutzman spent his life working at a restaurant to make enough money for he and his wife to enjoy when he retired. Unfortunately, his wife, Mary, died of breast cancer, and he was left along and struggling with guilt, grief, and depression. He decided to fulfill a life-long dream of hiking the entire Appalachian trail, all 2,176 miles and fourteen states as a ...more
Patty
May 08, 2010 Patty rated it it was amazing
Mr. Stutzman faced one of the biggest fears we married people face; he lost his beloved wife far too soon. They worked hard. They had plans for retirement. Big dreams. But because of cancer Mr. Stutzman was left with an overwhelming feeling of loss, of why and of not having appreciated his wife nearly enough. So with not just a little bit of fear but a lot of faith in his God he set off on one of his biggest dreams - a hike through of the Appalachian Trail.

I think this book appealed to me becaus
...more
Lisa
Sep 06, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second and more inspiring book I've read about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. I want to achieve that goal myself someday, even more so after reading this account. Stutzman's journey was one of seeking peace, freedom, and a personal relationship to God. As an agnostic, I couldn't relate to his losing religion but gaining spirituality, as he put it. For a man born and raised in a strict Mennonite family with its stringent traditions, he impressed me with his relative open-mindednes ...more
Wendy Jones
Aug 26, 2012 Wendy Jones rated it it was amazing
In order to put into context why I gave this book 5 stars I started reading it yesterday morning and finished it at midnight, not having done much else all day. After his wife dies of cancer Paul Stutzman hikes the whole of the appalachian trail in order to come to terms with her death, work out his relationship with God and fulfill a promise he had made to himself whilst she was alive. This book had me gripped from the get go. From the inital preparations for the hike, to the very final step I ...more
Ibjoy1953
Jun 02, 2012 Ibjoy1953 rated it it was amazing
MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

When Paul Stutzman’s wife passed away from breast cancer, even though life had to go on, it didn’t help the feelings of grief, hurt, being abandoned by God, and missing his wife Mary. After a year, Paul decided to quit his job and restaurant manager and hike

away his grief on the Appalachian Trail. I love the Appalachian Mountains, and having visited quite a bit, I can see why the author chose this setting as his place of healing. And of course there were the questions, di
...more
Mom2atornado
Oct 17, 2015 Mom2atornado rated it it was ok
I enjoyed reading Mr. Stutzman's descriptions of various shelters, hostels, and the trail and of course the hiker friends he meets along the way. I did not however realize just how "churchy" this read was going to be since the description of the book online and on the back of the book just barely even touch on it. The first half of the book was interesting and shared some adventures, but about half way through the book, there seemed to be a definite difference in writing. More and more sharing ...more
TAMMY CUEVAS
May 15, 2012 TAMMY CUEVAS rated it it was amazing
After suffering the loss of his wife to cancer, Paul Stutzman gave up his career in the restaurant business to pursue a longtime dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail. In his book, "Hiking Through", the reader will not only accompany him on his physical journey, but on his spiritual journey as well.

This book has appeal for different types of readers on different levels. For those who dream of hiking the trail ( or those who already have), for lovers of the outdoors, people who seek adventure if
...more
Daven
Feb 24, 2013 Daven rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book in the hospital gift shop when our son had to unexpectedly spend a second night there after the placement of a new pacemaker. I can see why it was included among the relatively few titles there; Stutzman, after losing his wife to cancer, sets off to accomplish a grueling physical as well as spiritual journey by "hiking through" the entire length of the Appalachian Trail.

This is an easy and engaging read. I found it a welcome companion for that mostly restless night (who ca
...more
Rick Boyer
Dec 05, 2013 Rick Boyer rated it really liked it
I liked this book. The story chronicles the experience of Paul Stutzman, who had recently lost his wife to breast cancer, and who had now embarked on a "thru-hike" of the 2,168 mile Appalachian Trail. It was his attempt to fine peace, hope, recovery from his grief, and a more meaningful relationship with God. Through five difficult months hiking the trail, he was able to realize all his goals.

The book is a very entertaining description of life on the AT, the interesting relationships that one ma
...more
Katie
Mar 19, 2010 Katie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All!
Paul Stutzman dreamed of through hiking the Appalachian Trail all his life, but life got ahead of him. After losing his wife to breast cancer Paul decided to take a risk- he quit his job of seventeen years and set out on the trail. On his nearly 2,200 mile journey from Georgia to Maine Paul dealt with extreme loneliness and brutal trail conditions, as well as, breathtaking vistas and irreplaceable trail camaraderie. Embarking on one of the most famous hikes in the world Paul learned that God had ...more
Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
Apr 21, 2010 Holly (2 Kids and Tired) rated it it was amazing
Normally when I discover that a book has no negative reviews, I'm very skeptical. I know how unrealistic it is to think that every reader will adore every book the same way. When it comes to Hiking Through, however, I can understand why every review I've seen, so far, has been 4 or 5 stars. It's terrific.

I'm not an outdoorsy person. I hate camping and I hyperventilate at the thought of aerobic exercise, although I do enjoy walking. I've done, and mostly enjoyed, short hikes here and there over t
...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
May 23, 2010 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it
‘Unless it’s the most important thing in your life at the time, you probably won’t finish.’


Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes after his wife Mary died from breast cancer. Twelve months after Mary’s death, Paul quit his job and set out on a through hike of the Appalachian Trail – a 2176 mile journey spanning fourteen states.

The physical journey took almost five months; I suspect that the spiritual journey will never end. During his journey, Paul battled difficult trail conditions and
...more
Ricky
Dec 31, 2012 Ricky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"For those of you who don't believe in God, my thoughts on life, death, and eternity will make no sense. If you came here to read an adventure book, just skip ahead a few paragraphs while I talk with those who have suffered a devastating loss in life." Page 298.

Maybe it's a book about finding God. Maybe it's a book about taking a journey and seeing what we're made of. As someone who someday hopes to walk the walk of the Appalacian Trail, I find both of those views acceptable. If you don't like
...more
Clare
Mar 02, 2014 Clare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hiking through seemed to find me more than I found it, which was very interesting because that's exactly what Paul Stutzman said the book would do when he was writing it. This book was one of adventure, both of the physical sense and of the spiritual sense. At times it was a little religious, but I read it anyway and I'm glad I did because I truly felt a connection with many of the things Paul wrote about. This is a book about finding out what our lives are truly about and making that into a rea ...more
Happyreader
A gentle AT travelogue, it you can call the AT gentle. Other than an interesting update on the 1981 AT murderer and an encounter with a rabbit on steroids, not much drama on the trail. More about the fellow hikers he encounters and how the experience broadens his horizons. Yes, this recently widowed Mennonite spends some talking and hiking with God and a backpacking priest but his trail theology is very palatable. A pleasant, healing walk in the woods and lovely transition to his new phase of li ...more
Curtis Taylor
When you start reading an adventure book about a person's travels and in this case the Appalachian Trail you are not sure of where the author is going to take you or what they want you to know about the adventure. In "Hiking Through", Paul took me to the heart of his heart. He shared his story to include his fear, his pains, his uncertainties, and his survivals, then he got on the trail. As he was transformed from each step on the trail and with each pound he lost in sweat he was growing closer ...more
Sunya Jones
Oct 13, 2015 Sunya Jones rated it it was amazing
Thank you Paul Stutzman for sharing your amazing journey with us. I savored every page of your book and even shed some tears at the end. I have had a 25+ year fascination with the AT and its a fantasy of mine to someday through hike myself. I know I could think of 100 excuses why I will never do it, but I truly hope someday I will find the time, the strength and the courage to make the 2,176 trek. Having lived in the East I have hiked parts of the AT in Pa, Vt, NH and Me. I lived in Manchester V ...more
Chris G
Feb 19, 2015 Chris G rated it it was amazing
Paul Stutzman illustrates his journey along the 2,176-mile trek of the Appalachian Trail in his book Hiking Through. After the tragedy of his lovely wife’s fight, and death, through breast cancer, Paul, guided by God’s loving hand, decides to quit his job and embark on an epic journey. This journey, full of ups and downs, takes him from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The journey is full of amazing experiences that Stutzman will remember for a lifetime.
Personally, I notic
...more
Edwin Martin
Nov 23, 2014 Edwin Martin rated it liked it
he explained his thoughts well about needing to "get away" from his old job and routine after his wife lost a battle with cancer. But he didn't really give enough detail in my opinion of how he actually was able to do the walk. I mean I never read what his staple food items were on the trail. He only talked about the places where he got off the trail for restaurants and B&Bs . Only my 3rd attempt at reading a hikers journal book. Blind Faith was much better, but at least Stutzman shares his ...more
Ian
Jul 01, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book more than I thought that I would. I finished it this morning while everyone was still sleeping and I am a bit disappointed that there isn't more to read tonight. The book is truly more about a personal journey than it is about hiking the AT, but the background story about his hike is enjoyable and the cast of characters are memorable. There were times when I understood his grief completely so for me there was a personal connection. Paul delivers the message that God gave him ...more
Amy
Mar 21, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-find
Wonderful wonderful book. He is funny and has an amazing story to tell. It is my dream to also hike the AT once the kids are grown and this book brought it to life along with a wonderful personal journey with God.
Beth Hartnett
Dec 15, 2015 Beth Hartnett rated it it was ok
I've been devouring Appalachian Trail (AT) online trail journals and books since meeting a through hiker near Crawford Notch this summer. I picked this book up at the library and found a trail story woven through with religious stories and messaging. It was well written and likely well received by its target audience...I am not, however, the target audience. In AT-speak, blue blazing means taking a route off trail before coming back to the true white blazes that mark the AT. I had to laugh when ...more
Brad Lackey
Jul 04, 2014 Brad Lackey rated it it was amazing
Wonderful spiritual adventure. Read it twice...and probably will again one day. It is one of 'them" books!!
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Author Resume
Name.. Paul Stutzman
Trail name.. Apostle
Place of birth.. Millersburg, Ohio
Age...58
Marital Status... widowed
Education.. High School
Church affiliation.. Mennonite
Family..Three children, four grandchildren
Occupation...Retired from restaurant management.
Previous published articles...none. This is my first attempt.
Previous writing.. Blog about my hike on www.trailjournals.com/apostle It ha
...more
More about Paul V. Stutzman...

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“Satisfaction in reaching goals does not always lie in the speed with which we achieve them; sometimes the satisfaction rises from overcoming obstacles and gaining wisdom in our journeys.” 0 likes
“We spend a lifetime working hard to accumulate homes and possessions that we believe are vital for comfort and security, only to discover those material accumulations are quite meaningless in our darkest hour of sadness and need.” 0 likes
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